Last week a large group of us embarked upon Westport, Co. Mayo for a cycling and running race called Sea 2 Summit. We opted for the 30k route as opposed to the longer 56km and trust me this was long enough. It was to be but a lovely day and night out but never have I seen such madness and as many people needing medical attention.
The route plan was:
3k Mountain run (Croagh Patrick) at half distance (1.5K) and at bottom (3K),
4k run with sea run (depending on tide times).
Total distance 30km
So off we set at 9:30 ish and to say the first half kilometre was uphill would be an understatement. A mental start with what felt like 2 vertical hills is more apt. Toughest start I’ve ever had to a race. Absolutely panting after 1km, we thought surely it can’t be this tough. We had entered into this with relative complacency. “Sure I’ve done marathons. This will be grand”. Not so.
Steady we continued on to the first transition for the 8km cycle. No trouble here. Proceeding towards the beauty of Croagh Patrick mountain the views were simply stunning looking out over the bay. This is a part of the country folks that is a must see. Upon arrival there was a bit of delay trying to find the correct area to stack the bikes before the climb. I think this was partly my fault but keep that to yourselves. A few minutes were lost but not the end of the world in an event we were simply enjoying.
So the climb began. This was so steep that running, or jogging, or even cantering was not possible. It was walking, queueing, slipping, cursing, slipping again, admiring how the mountain-top is the same distance away every time you look and struggling for breath. Again though, the views are incredible as you can see below. Just make sure you turn around on the way up of you’ll miss it. While we were trudging up, the people who were taking this a fair bit more seriously were taking their lives into their own hands while descending. Funny how a mountain does not play a part in the pace they chose. Que the coastguard helicopter.
Of course there were going to be injuries with how they were flying down. I’m just surprised it was an ankle and not a neck. One poor woman was being assisted with foil blankets and a couple of competitors went over on their ankles (myself included – got away with it!)
After a full hour of ascent and descent it was back to the bike where I think the gang of us were secretly racing each other so a sprint was required. This “race” ended after about 4kms back towards Westport where things were quickly put into perspective when I turned a bend and encountered a cyclist who had just come off her bike (and it wasn’t pretty). To make a long story short, an ambulance was definitely necessary. So the call was made and time was but an insignificant factor. We waited for a while to make sure she was ok. On a positive note the individual made it to hospital and left there a short while later with nothing but a few bumps, bruises and no doubt a lot of relief.
After this it was about a 4k cycle in and a 4k run to the finish line. This actually ended up being a tough end as the final transition seemed to have taken its’ toll and the legs were heavy but for an event that was not to be taken remotly as seriously as the Dublin marathon, who cared? All in all it was a very successful and enjoyable day. A trip that can be summed up by “let’s do that again”!